September 26th, 2014

Letter to Ombudsman from NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong on CBSA/MTO/OPP vehicle safety blitz

Dear Mr. Marin,

I am writing to request that you conduct an investigation into the practice and protocols of commercial vehicle safety blitzes involving the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), Ontario Ministries of Transportation and Environment, OPP and any other traffic safety agencies.
As you are aware, on August 14th between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. the CBSA, government ministries and the OPP jointly conducted a series of commercial vehicle safety blitzes in northwest Toronto that resulted in 21 individuals being detained and a number of them deported.

This incident is very disturbing, and the Premier has yet to explain what role her government played in these arrests. We are told that an internal investigation by the Ministry of Transportation into the incident is being conducted; however I feel that a Ministry investigating itself is insufficient.  This investigation merits a review by an independent body.

The review should include:

  • What are the practice and protocols of commercial vehicle safety blitzes that involve federal and provincial agencies?
  • Have there been other “traffic safety blitzes” in the past coordinated with the CBSA?
  • Is it standard practice to involve the CBSA in provincial vehicle safety blitzes?
  • Is it standard procedure to ask passengers to produce their identification by police when being stopped in a commercial vehicle safety blitz? 
  • Why were government resources used in a federal immigration operation that led to the arrests of 21 individuals? 
  • What criteria was used to decide which vehicles to inspect on August 14th?
  • Why are provincial agencies and ministries helping to enforce federal immigration laws?

Mr. Marin, I believe it’s important to get to the bottom of what happened on August 14th , and more importantly if this is a long-standing practice amongst these agencies. 

We must work together to ensure that Ontarians feel safe and are not discriminated against based on their immigration status.  Any potential violation of individuals’ rights should not be taken lightly and deserve the utmost scrutiny.  This is a very serious matter of breach of public trust, community safety, and confidence in our government and police force.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance. 


(original signed)

Teresa Armstrong

MPP London Fanshawe

NDP Critic Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade